Monday, August 28, 2017

I Think She was Murdered

Note from Tracy:
I've spent the last eight days soaking up the sun and vacationing at the site of my next Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder.  The visit inspired me to tempt you with an excerpt.  Enjoy!

Pre-Meditated Murder  releases January 8, 2018.
We followed the shoreline back toward Cannon Beach. I swung Bella’s leash in my right hand while she herded waves on my left. By the time we reached the rock wall at Arcadia State Park, the tide had gone out enough that we could walk around it without getting wet. Now that it was almost noon, small groups of matchstick-sized people wandered the beach. Some of them were walking toward us.
I reached for Bella’s collar, but stopped. A few hundred feet ahead, a colony of seagulls—dozens of them—dotted the shore. Bella’s eyes begged me.
Please? Just one more run?
Why not? One of us should be having fun. “Okay girl. Go get ‘em!”
Bella galloped after those birds like a cheetah after a gazelle. It was ridiculous, really. All of us—human, canine, and seabird included—knew that Bella would never catch them. But that didn’t diminish anyone’s fun. When Bella was about fifteen feet away, the birds took off in unison, flew a hundred feet down the beach, and landed, still in formation. Bella skidded to a stop, let out a single, loud bark, and tore after them again.
May as well give up, hunter dog.
I reached out my arms and yelled, “Bella, come!”
As trained, Bella turned a one-eighty and ran back to me at full steam.
Three hundred feet … two hundred … one hundred … “Bella, slow down!” I yelled. I repeated the command three more times in a rapid-fire panic. “Slow down! Slow down! Slow down!”
Bella didn’t hear, didn’t understand, or—more likely—chose not to listen. She launched through the air, collided with my chest like a hundred-pound bowling ball, and knocked me flat on my sitting bones for the second time in thirty minutes. A quick German shepherd chin nibble later, she ran a quick circle around me and chose a new destination: a Jenga-like stack of driftwood piled up against the cliff.
I spit out a million tiny particles of sand. “Bella, come!” I commanded.
No response.
I stood, brushed the wet sand off my bottom, and trudged toward my dog. “Bella, knock it off and get over here! Leave it!”
Bella pretended to be deaf.
What on earth was she so interested in? Half-eaten hotdogs? Urine from a particularly studly Golden Retriever? A seagull corpse?
Bella stopped sniffing and commenced digging.
I groaned. It had to be a dead creature of some kind. Bella couldn’t digest real food unless it was incubated in expensive prescription enzymes. I imagined scooping up undigested seagull parts and groaned louder.
“Bella, I said come!”
Not even an ear twitch. This level of disobedience was unusual, even for her.
I broke into a jog. When Bella wanted something this badly, it was a sure bet that I didn’t want her to have it. I skidded to a stop next to my recalcitrant canine and clipped the leash to her collar. “That’s enough girl. Leave it.”
She ignored me.
I tightened the leash and made my voice especially stern. “I mean it.”
Bella refused to move.
Whatever she’d found, it was infinitely more interesting than a five-foot-three-inch yoga teacher.
Bella channeled her inner Ricky, grabbed onto something and pulled, exposing a woman’s tennis shoe.
“Seriously, Bella?” I grumped. “This much drama over a shoe?”
Then I looked closer and gagged.
The shoe was attached to a foot. A foot that was attached to a caramel-skinned ankle. A caramel-skinned ankle wearing a starfish ankle bracelet.
Oh God, no.
Bella had unearthed a body—a woman. She was buried, facedown, in an obviously man-made mountain of driftwood, seaweed, and sand.
I wish I could say I was horrified. I wish I could say I screamed like a scared little schoolgirl. I wish I could say I vomited like I did the night I found my friend George’s body.
But I didn’t. I simply stood there, thinking the same words over and over: not again.
 I clawed through the rocks, unearthed the broken body’s left wrist, and forced myself to feel for a pulse. Her fourth finger was bare, except for a band of lighter skin where her wedding ring used to be. I suppressed the urge to run off to warn Michael, pulled out my cell phone, and dialed 911.
“Hi. My name’s Kate Davidson. I found a woman’s body. I think she was murdered.”

All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Tracy Weber is a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, where she current­ly lives with her husband, Marc, and precocious German shepherd puppy, Ana. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. When she’s not writing, she spends her time teaching yoga, trying to corral Ana Tasha, and sip­ping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. Tracy loves connecting with fans.  Find her on her author web page or on Facebook.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

5--no, 6--Things I Love About Launch Day the Third Time Around

By Lisa Alber

Path Into Darkness is out in the world now. My third novel, and I can't help but compare the book launch day experience for this novel against the same day for my debut novel, Kilmoon. There's nothing like a debut novel. I remember wiser novelists cautioning me to remember to enjoy the experience; it only comes around once.

So true! But, just to play Devil's Advocate with myself, in some ways, thank goodness the experience only comes around once! Here are the five ways that I enjoyed the book launch for Path Into Darkness.

1. It wasn't heady, loud, OMG everything is going to change BECAUSE I'LL BE PUBLISHED AUTHOR. So much stress and drama to go along with the thrill. Every year, the new batch of debut authors reveal themselves, and I so understand how big and new everything is, and I think, I was like that too; that was fun; but I'm glad I'm here now.

By contrast, what was launch day like this time around? Pleasant and relaxed because I had no expectations. I woke up and got my writing in for the day as usual before doing the online thing.

2. Not having a book launch party the week of book launch. The past two book releases I had the party at my local bookstore the week of. Ugh. I'm a stressed-out event planner anyhow, and I'm not exactly an extrovert who loves being the center of attention. I planned big parties in the local Irish pub and made a big production of them, especially for Kilmoon. I mean, you gotta for the first book, granted, but, man--too much stress!

So what am I doing this time around? My launch party is next week, a couple of weeks after book launch day. Best yet, it will be a joint event with two other author friends with books out now too. I'm so much more relaxed -- and I'm even looking forward to it! (That's mostly a joke, but not 100%.)

3. The little things that surprise me. Since I don't have huge expectations anymore, I found great pleasure in the little things that posted online. For example, I was the book of the day for Foreword Reviews. I enjoyed sharing that. Other mentions and reviews and hurrahs came through too. I appreciated every one of them.

4. I don't feel desperate. I have a way more relaxed attitude about the whole thing when it comes to readers. I remember for Kilmoon, I was so nervous. It was like my very existence hinged on whether people would like my book, and how many (sales!) of them there were. It's true that promotion is an important part of our jobs, but I now understand how little control I actually have. That's a relief. Honestly.

So what is it I'm really saying? I've returned to the love of process. I love writing. Just that. I'm writing the first draft of my next book now, and I'm having so much fun with it. Just gotta keep writing!

5. Holding the book in my hands. This is one of the few things that hasn't changed. I brought a copy to a few parties over the last month for show-and-tell, like I was showing off my newborn infant. I still take pride in my work. It's an awesome feat, to complete a novel all the way to the point of publication. I'm honored to be a member of the tribe, and I appreciate it so much.

On a related note, one of the things that was cool this time around was holding a book in which the flap copy says things like, "By the author of Whispers in the Mist, heralded by Library Journal as “a first-rate crime novel,” comes this haunting tale of family secrets, madness, and healing in small-town Ireland." It feels weighty in a nice way, like, yes, I have a track record now, and it's pretty darned good. I'm surprised by how good this feels.

And 6. This just came to me. There are people out there who have been looking forward to the next in my series. I didn't notice this so much for the second book, because it's a second--that's it own thing--but now? It's so--I don't know--heartwarming? It's like, Wow, I've written stories that people are telling me they're excited to read. That they CAN'T WAIT to read. I don't know what the word for this is, actually. Mind-boggling comes pretty close. :-)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cover Reveal: Turning the Tide

Edith Maxwell here, thoroughly enjoying the plentiful fresh produce of a New England August.

I'm so excited I can finally reveal the cover for the third Quaker Midwife Mystery, Turning the Tide! To celebrate, I'm going to give away a large-print edition of Called to Justice to one commenter here today.

Here's the blurb for Turning the Tide

Excitement runs high during Presidential election week in 1888. The Woman Suffrage Association plans a demonstration, and movement leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton comes to town to rally the troops. When Quaker midwife Rose Carroll finds the body of the group's local organizer the next morning, she can't help but wonder who could have committed the murder.

Rose quickly discovers several people who have motives. The victim had planned to leave her controlling husband, and a recent promotion had cost a male colleague his job. She had also recently spurned a fellow suffragist's affections. After Rose's own life is threatened, identifying the killer takes on a personal sense of urgency.
I wrote about some of my research for the book here last month, and finally I can share the cover. Are you ready? Drumroll please...

The women turn out in force to demonstrate across from the polls on election morning - see them behind Rose? The book will be out next April, and is available for preorder (which, you know, really helps authors - just saying...).

Readers: Do you have any family connections with woman suffrage activists? What other novels do you like that deal with the topic, whether in the nineteenth century or the twentieth?

Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning, Agatha-nominated short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she creates the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries.

Maxwell is President of Sisters in Crime New England. She lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats, and blogs here, with the other Wicked Cozy Authors, and with the Midnight Ink Writers. You can find her on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, and at her web site,

Monday, August 7, 2017

When Research Is Your Life

by Linda O. Johnston

Research is my life, and my life is research!

How?  Well, all the books I write these days feature dogs, and I'm always spending time with my dogs, learning to train them, letting them train me, listening to their demands, feeding them, trying different kinds of treats, and more.  I've got two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, a 9-year-old and a 9-month-old.  Their stages of training are quite different--and the younger one knows more than the older one!  At least regarding things people would like them to know.

I also love meeting, talking with, petting and playing with other peoples' dogs, including those owned by friends and neighbors, and others also being trained in our puppy's training class.

Do I feel like my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries protagonist, Carrie Kennersly?  Not really.  She's even more involved with dogs than I am.  First, she started out as a veterinary technician, which is where she created the scrumptious and healthy dog treats she now sells at her Barkery and Biscuits bakery--next door to her human bakery Icing on the Cake.  One thing you can guess about her theme is that she likes to bake and does it a lot.  Me?  I'm not much of a cook of any kind.  But I do like sampling treats and letting my dogs indulge as well.

Right now, I'm in between my Barkery books.  The last one, BAD TO THE BONE, was released in May 2017, and the next, to be titled PICK AND CHEWS, will come out in May 2018.

But I feel like I'm always plotting and petting dogs and learning more that can be incorporated in future books.  So... Hey, pups.  Come.  Sit.  Stay.  Down.  Give me hugs.  And inspire me to write some more!